"I'm looking to connect with writers to produce content related to all things parenting," the guy tells me. "I need a couple voices from a male perspective."
I sit up: Work, unsolicited! But I slump back. Even though I write about parenting from my male perspective for free every single day, I know I'm never going to work for this guy. He's probably perfectly nice. But he doesn't know anything about writers. For instance:
Writers don't see themselves as "writers." Those of us worth our salt, anyway, see ourselves as a writer. No, goddamnit—as the writer.
Next. "Produce content?" I'd much rather you say you're looking to connect with people who "write shit." Because at least that does describe what I actually do. You, Bossman, "produce content," partly through the help of writers. Don't ever use the word "content" with a writer. As Garrison Keillor said, "I sure wish we could get rid of that word 'content' to refer to writing, photography, drawing, and design online. The very word breathes indifference—why would one bother about the quality of work when it's referred to as 'content'? … I loathe the word. It's like referring to Omaha Beach as a development."
And it's not just dispiriting "content" that you want your writers to produce, it's "content related to all things parenting." This pattycake phrasing removes any doubt that you're looking for filler material. You wouldn't say Harper Lee created "content related to all things Deep South," would you?
No, I do not think I am Harper Lee. But Harper Lee was a writer, and I am a writer, and yes, writers are sometimes willing to do some bullshit work in order to pay the bills. But unless you're paying massive bucks for this content related to all things parenting, it will behoove you to remember: We did not become writers—goddamn it, I did not become a writer!—because it was the very best money-making scheme I could think of. So you might want to try to convince me that you might be looking for the product of my intellect, my insight, my writing style.
"I need a couple voices from a male perspective."
Sorry, pal. Simon and Garfunkel split up a long time ago.
But please, send me some details. I'll send you some samples of content I've produced related to all things parenting. You'll no doubt find them a little too—what is the word (candid? human? singular? edgy?). And you'll find another couple voices from a male perspective, and I'll never hear from you again.
And my best writer pal and I will bid you permanent farewell over shots and beers at the J&M Tavern, with our usual toast: "Rejection! It seeks me out and finds me!"